quoted him: "Don't patronize the chain bookstores. Every time I see some author scheduled to read and sign his books at a chain bookstore, I feel like telling him he's stabbing the independent bookstores in the back."
My response was as follows: "So, we are supposed to refuse what tiny, pathetic opportunities we have for publicizing our work, further restricting our already-meager options for finding new readers, to serve somebody else's anti-corporate agenda? As if anyone gives a rat's ass that a literary writer somewhere is taking a bold stance against some hairsplitting distinction that about nine people in the entire world even recognize. Ferlinghetti should try opening an independent bookstore in, say, Ohio or upstate New York, and see how much traction he gets. Personally, I feel stabbed in the back when I'm told how and where to sell my books by somebody I've never met."
Sorry, Corey, don't unfriend me. But really: as a corollary to the last post, I personally decline to feel bad about failing to sell my own work according to some impossible left-coast standard of moral purity. And though I love my local independent, and support it with my dollars, rhetoric, and what little authorial clout I possess, the fact is that indies have been a niche business for a long time and are only going to get nichier. People don't like them, they like Barnes & Noble. Or ebooks, for chrissake, which are selling like mad, and this is for reading on a device aesthetically akin to a home perm kit from 1983.
Physical books and independent bookstores are a fetish. I happen to embrace this fetish, personally, but I do not have the mental energy to proselytize about it, or to get all high and mighty about the method by which readers pay attention to what I do. Frankly, this amounts to stabbing readers in the back. "No--you're liking me wrong!" is the message Ferlinghetti is encouraging us to deliver to them. Honestly, their only reasonable response would be to give up liking us at all.